In the era of pick-and-choose, downloadable mp3s, long live the rock opera! Following 2006's Japanese-folk-tale-inspired The Crane Wife, the Decemberists have crafted a somewhat obscure woodland narrative for their new album, The Hazards of Love, a story about a love-seeking maiden, a cruel rake, an irritable queen, and her shape-shifting son. The Portlanders do some shape-shifting themselves on Hazards, moving from their customary prog/folk rock to metal riffs and back, with atmospheric Hammond organ, romantic mandolin, and even a children's choir. Becky Stark of Lavender Diamond and Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond fit their characters perfectly, and other guests include My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Robyn Hitchcock, and the Spinanes' Rebecca Gates. Per usual, frontman Colin Meloy gives word nerds much to love—i.e. "irascible," "bereft," "deadfall"—though the story's outshined by the inventive instrumentation and vocals. The Decemberists were named after the 1825 Decembrist revolt in Imperial Russia, and Hazards also functions as an uprising—against indie conventions and genre labeling. Portland peers Laura Veirs (who appears on The Crane Wife's "Yankee Bayonet") and the Hall of Flames open. All ages.
Fri., Oct. 9, 7:30 p.m., 2009